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CONFERENCE  

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    GAME NARRATIVE SUMMIT
Monday, February 27 & Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Game Narrative Summit covers interactive narrative in all its forms, from AAA blockbusters to indie games to mobile/social projects. The event features an all-star lineup of speakers from every corner of the discipline. Session content ranges from the advanced and theoretical to practical case studies and advocacy for writers, designers, producers, and others seeking to expand their understanding of game narrative. The Game Narrative Summit attracts attendees from all over the world with a passionate interest in the ongoing evolution of interactive storytelling as a driving force in the future of entertainment.

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2016 HIGHLIGHTED SESSIONS

The Exposition Burden
Jennifer Hepler (Disruptor Beam)
Have you ever struggled with how to present complex information to players without turning your dialogue into an info-dump? Does it sometimes feel like your characters are just signposts for the plot, rather than people with lives and opinions of their own? Exposition is a huge burden for game writers, with complex worlds and byzantine storylines warring with short attention spans and action-driven play. Come and learn effective techniques for camouflaging your exposition through effective characterization, "breadcrumb trails," unreliable narrators and conflicting points of view.
Forget Protagonists: Writing NPCs with Agency for "80 Days" and Beyond
Meg Jayanth (Freelance)
Too often in games, protagonists are rock stars or toddlers. NPCs shower heroes with backstory and affection; plot warps to accommodate them; the game world exists to reflect their importance. But the protagonist is not the player. Often, the player's experience benefits when NPCs have agency, drive and motivation - even when NPC actions limit or constrain the protagonist's. Drawing on her experience writing 80 Days (TIME's GOTY 2014, winner of IGF 2014 Best Narrative, and nominated for four BAFTAs) and examining relevant game examples, Meg Jayanth will explore best practices around writing three-dimensional, engaging NPCs to enliven game narratives.
Advanced Environmental Storytelling in Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon
Randy Smith (Tiger Style)
The story of Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon supports intertwining plot threads of multiple characters and interactive, solvable mysteries that add up to one uber-puzzle conclusion, all without text or a single line of dialog, conveyed almost entirely through the static environment in a nonlinear format that implicitly casts players as detectives investigating a domestic drama. This presentation tours the design and execution of this ambitious and largely-successful narrative, examining many specific moments of success and failure and drawing lessons from the speaker's extensive experience in environmental storytelling, including the Thief series, the Spider series, and Waking Mars.
Dragon Age: Inquisition: Trespasser - Building to an Emotional Theme
John Epler (BioWare)
Patrick Weekes (Bioware)
In this talk, the Lead Writer and Lead Narrative Designer of the Dragon Age franchise will take you through the process they used to develop the core narrative and thematic moments in the Trespasser DLC. They'll talk both about the ideas that went from ideation to ship in more-or-less the same shape as well as those that were born, lived, and died within the space of a day - and how they were able to tell the difference when it was still early enough to make the necessary changes.

GAME NARRATIVE SUMMIT ADVISORS

Tom Abernathy
Jumo
Tom Abernathy is Director of Narrative at Jumo, creators of the upcoming Infinite Arms. His major game credits include The Division, League of Legends, Crimson Alliance, Halo: Reach, The Saboteur, and Destroy All Humans! 1 & 2. A veteran of Riot Games (as Lead Narrative Writer), Microsoft Studios, and the late, great Pandemic Studios, in 2009 Tom was named as one of "The Gamasutra 20: Top Game Writers." His most recent film credit, Bad Country, was released in 2014 by Sony Pictures. Follow him on Twitter @tomabernathy.
Lev Chapelsky
Blindlight
Lev Chapelsky is a founding partner and GM for Blindlight, a Hollywood-based company that works exclusively for the video game industry, providing game producers with consultative advice on working with outsource talent, as well as soup to nuts production of outsourced projects. Blindlight's core disciplines include story development, script writing, celebrity acquisition and voiceover production.

Since its founding in 2000, Blindlight has earned over 300 game credits and a client list that includes 19 of the top 20 game publishers. Blindlight continues to work as part of extended development teams on original game properties, including the Halo, Splinter Cell, Far Cry, Elder Scrolls, Dishonored, Fallout, Tomb Raider, Guild Wars and Destiny franchises, and on dozens of film and TV licensed properties. Lev holds a B.F.A. degree from Notre Dame, an M.B.A. from UCLA and a degree in International Business Management from The Stockholm School of Economics.
Richard Dansky
Ubisoft/Red Storm
As Central Clancy writer, Richard has been with Red Storm/Ubisoft for over a decade. He has worked on games in series such as Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, Far Cry and Might and Magic, with his most recent title being Splinter Cell: Blacklist. A former executive of the IGDA Writers' Special Interest Group, Richard is the author of six novels and one short fiction collection. He has also contributed to numerous books on games and game design, including the award-winning, "Hobby Games: The 100 Best." Previously, Richard worked on more than a hundred role-playing game books for White Wolf Game Studios. His published work includes short fiction as well as literary criticism, book and music reviews, humor and a brief stint as the world's greatest authority on Denebian Slime Devils. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Dr. Melinda Thielbar. You can find him online at www.richarddansky.com.
Susan O'Connor
Susan O'Connor Writing Studio
Susan O'Connor is a writer. She works with studios to create worlds and adventures for video games. Titles in her portfolio have sold over ten million copies and generated more than half a billion dollars in sales. Gamasutra has named her as one of the top writers working in the video game industry today. She has been a featured speaker at SXSW, TEDx and the Austin Film Festival. A native of Austin, O'Connor now lives in San Francisco and splits her time between game projects, TV assignments, and surfing. She is represented by United Talent Agency.